With environmental issues on the rise, the world is collectively taking steps at conversing our natural flora and fauna, today. However, 106 year old Padma Shri awardee Saalumarada Thimmakka had started to care for nature many years ago.
Known as Thimmakka during her childhood days, she got married to Bikkala Chikkayya, a labourer. Happy and looking forward to becoming a mother, Thimmakka, was however in for a rude shock when even after trying for many years, could not bear a child of her own. Upon learning that she will never be able to give birth, Thimmakka, wanted to commit suicide.
In 1948, the couple decided to work towards caring for something else – they decided to take a step to care of nature. The distance from their village, Hulikal to Kudoor covers a span of almost 4kms and this couple decided to fill it up with banyan trees.
In the first year they planted 10 trees and they kept on increasing the number with each passing year. In 1991, when her husband passed away, Thimmakka did not stop with her work. Till date she is credited to have planted more than 8000 trees and his engaged in several other development work as well.
The title of Saalumarada which means “rows of trees” in the local tongue, was conferred to her by her people. Her silent effort of almost 80 years, caught global attention, when she was included in BBC’s 100 most influential women list.
In 2019, at the ripe old age of 106, she was conferred the Padma Shri.
During the ceremony she unknowingly broke protocol as she blessed the president by warmly placing her hand on his head. Inherently a mother at heart, she continues to care for our greatest treasure – our environment.